San Jose Mercury News, Calif., Aleta Watson column: Trevese: New star in Los Gatos landmark.(Restaurant review)(Column)
From: San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, CA) Date: June 3, 2007 More results for: trevese restaurant mercury news review
Byline: Aleta Watson Jun. 3--The evolution of Los Gatos as a restaurant town is clear in the story of the old Coggeshall mansion on North Santa Cruz Avenue: Some three decades ago, when the family-home-turned-mortuary was converted to an outpost of the Chart House chain, the hot ticket in town was steaks and seafood in a casual setting. Today, it's foie gras, suckling pig and Kobe-style beef amid white linen and crystal glasses at Trevese, one of the South Bay's most ambitious new restaurants. At last, the gorgeous 1891 Victorian has a restaurant worthy of its dining rooms. Owner/chef Michael Miller brings style, imagination and refined cooking to this 2-monthold restaurant in the heart of downtown Los Gatos. His small, eclectic menu delivers high-quality ingredients prepared with classic techniques and updated flavors. That might mean sauteed fava leaves with skillet-seared Alaskan black cod ($24), kumquat marmalade with crispy duck ($29), or lobster foam with poached salmon ($24). The food is creative but not intimidating. The mood is relaxed, underscored by the engaging, efficient servers and cool jazz playing in the background. Luscious, buttery Hudson Valley foie gras ($19), hot from the grill, is paired with an icy saba granita for an appealing contrast of hot and cold temperatures, savory and sweet/tart flavors. Fresh English peas are served in a pair of soups ($9) -- a cool,
austere broth with a hint of lemon oil and a warm, creamy bisque perked up with pancetta and serrano chile. And those are just starters. From the mansion's traditional exterior, complete with a turret crowned by a witch's cap, there is no hint of the thoroughly modern interior behind the glass doors and gingerbread trim. Inside, dining rooms have been transformed by a subdued color scheme of chocolate, gray and cream into quietly elegant spaces. Panels of wavy glass screen the kitchen from diners, obscuring the view while transforming the cooks' culinary choreography into a fascinating shadow play. Lighting is soft and flattering. Carpets underfoot keep noise to a low murmur. South Bay diners may recall Miller as the owner of the critically acclaimed but short-lived Umunhum, which opened in an Almaden Valley shopping center in 2000. Umunhum was a homecoming for the Leland High School grad, who learned his trade at the Culinary Institute of America in New York and worked in top Manhattan restaurants before joining Wolfgang Puck's kitchens in Los Angeles for four years. Umunhum was doomed, however, by a depressed economy and a difficult location. Miller switched to a bistro format, then sold out in 2003, going on to consult, travel and cook at Louka in Danville and Village California Bistro and Wine Bar in Santana Row. Now, he contends the time is right for Trevese -- named after his wife, Terese Miller, and toddler son Trevor -- in increasingly sophisticated Los Gatos, where nearby Manresa picked up two Michelin stars this year for its cutting-edge menu. "I think fine dining is back on its feet again," he says. Dinner one night started on a high note with a gift from the chef -- an espresso cup of creamy wild mushroom bisque, the woodsy taste of the fungi amplified by a touch of porcini oil. Next, a selection of breads -- made in-house by pastry chef Michael Finehirsh, who has worked with celebrated French chefs Alain Ducasse and Daniel Boulud -- was delivered on a tray. The fat, chewy breadstick with manchego cheese and crunchy sea salt was delightful, the potato bread with sage a bit dry. Our server, clad in a gray shirt and black pants and apron, was friendly and enthusiastic. He described dishes in detail and offered down-to-earth advice on wine from the expansive 20-page list spanning the world's major wine producing regions. In addition to
the usual cabernet and chardonnay, there was albarino from Spain, Nero d'Avola from Sicily, vernaccia from Tuscany and muscadet from France. We opted for a glass of the dense, fruity 2003 Chateauneuf-du-Pape from Chateau de la Gardine ($14) that night. On another evening, I was wavering between pinots until our server offered me a taste of the silky 2003 Miura Hudson Vineyard pinot noir ($18 a glass) from Napa's Carneros district. One sip and I was captivated by its deep berry flavors, nicely balanced with earthy undertones. Both wines were pricey, it's true, but a good value for well-made vintages that retail for around $40 and $50 a bottle, respectively. The Miura is a small-production wine that's difficult to find outside restaurants. The menu, although American at root, goes where Miller's culinary muse takes him. A starter of perfectly seared, impeccably fresh sea scallops ($13) takes on Asian flavors with soba noodles and seaweed dressed in sweet mirin, Japanese rice wine. The accompanying broccolini and crisp gnocchi suggest an Italian inspiration for the suckling pig ($22), braised first and then prepared three ways -- succulent broiled ribs, seared belly and exquisitely tender cheek in confit. A whiff of cinnamon in the sauce highlights the porky quality of the meat. Offerings change with the season and availability of ingredients. Alaskan black cod now replaces the expertly seared halibut ($24), its flesh moist and flaky, I ate one evening. Thankfully, the irresistible lentil salad, crunchy with almonds, and the nutty little favas remain on the plate. Roast coulotte of American Kobe beef ($38) substitutes for the pleasantly chewy, beautifully browned shoulder cut known as a zambuton. The meat is drizzled with a fabulous port-tinged sauce containing just enough acid to cut the richness of the beef. A tasting menu of seven courses ($90/$135 with matching wines) also is available. The kitchen still has a few kinks to work out. The gnocchi served with the suckling pig were tough and bland one night, and the leg on the crispy duck entree was a bit too crisp and dry on another. But those are minor errors, easily fixed. Overall, Trevese's food is impressive.
Desserts ($10) hew to the same high standards. Finehirsh's creations play with flavors and textures on multiple levels. Passion fruit custard offers the tropical fruit in a light custard, a lacy tuille cookie, a dollop of jam and an airy little marshmallow that dissolves on the tongue, flooding the palate with bright, clear flavor. Playing counterpoint on the plate are a brittle, fried mint leaf, milk chocolate sauce and a banana milk chocolate foam with the texture of an airy mousse. The warm, custardy almond paste souffle, baked in an espresso cup, is partnered with a cube of strawberry port gelee, a delectable salad of fresh strawberries with mint and a miniature orange blossom honey parfait. With food this good, served in such an attractive setting, the future looks bright for Trevese. Trevese 115 N. Santa Cruz Ave., at Grays Lane, Los Gatos (408)354-5551.
The Dish: The century-old Coggeshall mansion finally gets a restaurant worthy of its architecture in Michael Miller's Trevese. The ambitious new venture brings an imaginative American menu to the increasingly sophisticated food scene in downtown Los Gatos. Price range: Dinner appetizers $8-$19, entrees $18-$44. Corkage fee: $15. Details: Full bar. Patio dining. Private parking lot at rear. Pluses: Perfectly seared scallops, deeply flavored suckling pig with cinnamon, and bright passion fruit dessert. Minuses: Crispy gnocchi were tough and bland. Hours: Dinner 5-11 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays.
Restaurant reviews are conducted anonymously. The Mercury News pays for all meals.